Soft play areas: A survival guide

 Who doesn’t love a soft play area? Me, that’s who! They are literally the most horrendous places on earth. I would much rather spend an hour listening to someone scrape their fingernails down a blackboard than go to one. But alas, sometimes you need burn them out mentally and physically and they are the only option. Here are my tips for survival when you have no other choice but to drag your spawn to one:

1. Never ever go to one hungover. It might seem like the better option to lying on the sofa, trying to die, whilst the kids throw things at you. But trust me, you will live to regret it the second you enter. These places have a decibel of their own range and a fragile brain cannot and will not cope.

2. Other people’s children are little shits and you only become fully aware of this once you have frequented a soft play area. Biters, pushers and thieves are swarming everywhere. Beware of the innocent looking ones- these are usually the worst culprits!

3. Sharing is caring, that is unless your child has something and some little cretin tries to pry it off them. You will find yourself whispering to the would be thief “oh but he/she had it first, you find something else to play with” until you spy their owner out of the corner of your eye and immediately direct to your child  “oh just give the other kid it, you’ve had long enough!”. There are unspoken rules when dealing with other parents, adjust your usual parenting technique to reflect a more serene, unbiased person.

4. Be prepared to do battle with fellow parents still, in spite of the above. Most go solely to drink their tea, read their phones and relinquish any parental responsibilities. With this being the case, they tend to not observe their little darling knocking the crap clean out of your beloved child. Be aware that , in the end, you will get into a fight with them and express language you never thought you’d utter in a venue filled with children.

5. Your child will insist on bringing one of their own toys then proceed to lose said toy in the ball pit, which will of course be huge! This will cause a monumental meltdown from child and result in you on all fours, flinging balls everywhere, trying to locate the item. You will not look good when this occurs but you will resemble some kind of flustered maniac.

6. Condition yourself for the onslaught of climbing up and avoiding swinging things by paying your local gym a visit at least once a week. This will ensure that your body is at optimum capacity to tackle what seems like an assault course and to run wildly after your toddler. The food choices on offer will also ensure that the gym is essential as you will eat your weight in buns and chocolate to keep your energy levels up.

7. The only other thing worse than having to go a soft play area is having to go to a birthday party in one. Kids party + soft play + small talk with parents you don’t know = total hell on earth. There’s no alcohol either which is pretty dismal.

8. “You would save so much more money here if you just took out a membership”. A membership to hell on earth? No thanks, I would save money taking out shares in Echo Falls, not here!  Never ever agree to a membership offer. You will feel like you have to go everyday to get your monies worth and nobody’s got the time nor the energy for that.

9. Thank me later for this advice!